The following is an excerpt from Bold Faith: First-Century Lessons for Twenty-First Century Christians by Dr. Jim Denison.
On September 11, Lt. Col. Brian Birdwell stepped into a Pentagon hallway when the fireball from the hijacked airliner hit him. When doctors got to him at the Washington Burn Center, they found second- and third-degree burns over 40 percent of his body. They performed numerous skin graft operations to save his life.
Two days later, First Lady Laura Bush visited Brian in his hospital room, then hugged his wife Mel. She then told them that someone else wanted to see them. In walked the president of the United States. He saluted Brian. Brian returned the salute, taking fifteen to twenty seconds to get his hand up because of his burned arms. President Bush’s arm never moved. He dropped his salute only when Brian finished his, the military action of an inferior to his superior.
Now let’s consider a first-century analogy.
As Acts 3 opens, we find Peter and John on their way to the temple for worship. It’s three in the afternoon, and everything is as routine as it gets. They’ve been going to the temple in Jerusalem for worship since they were twelve, climbing the steps through the Gate Beautiful or another entrance and passing beggars along the way, each hoping for money from the worshippers. This is the third sacrifice given this very day, the third worship service.
It was all as routine as church can be for us: drive the same streets, park in the same place, sit in the same pew. If someone gets there before us, there’s trouble. It’s all routine.
Everything is routine in our text, including this particular beggar. Crippled from birth, he’s now more than forty years old (Acts 4:22). Every day since infancy he’s been laid by this gate to beg from these worshippers. So he sees Peter and John on their way into the temple and asks them for money.
Now comes the surprise: “Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John” (Acts 3:4). The Greek word means to stare with intense purpose. It’s the word used for the apostles as they stared at the ascending Christ (Acts 1:10) and for Stephen as he stared at the enthroned Lord while he was dying (Acts 7:55). Others saw, but Peter and John looked. Others heard, but they listened. Others rushed by, but they stopped.
They saw the one. They saw his need. And they cared.
That’s where ministry begins.
Excerpted from Bold Faith: First-Century Lessons for Twenty-First Century Christians by Dr. Jim Denison.